SARASOTA, Fla. – Investigators postponed releasing NASA (search)-enhanced images of a girl being abducted by a tattooed man at a Florida car wash because the quality wasn't much better than pictures they already had, a sheriff's office official said Thursday.
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Carlie Brucia (search) had turned to NASA to sharpen and enlarge the images and had planned to make them public Thursday evening in an effort to jar the memories of anyone who may have seen the 11-year-old and her abductor.
But the quality of the NASA-enhanced images wasn't much better than the originals, said Maj. Kevin Gooding, a spokesman for the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office (search). Photos with additional enhancement by the space agency would not be ready before Friday for possible distribution to the public, he said.
Elements of the video pictures of Carlie Brucia and her kidnapper were supposed to be sharpened and enlarged by special equipment used at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Investigators in Sarasota first turned to NASA on Wednesday for help in getting a clearer look at the suspect, Joseph P. Smith, who was filmed by a surveillance camera as he led the girl away.
David Hathaway, a NASA physicist at Marshall, refused to say whether investigators asked him to sharpen the suspect's tattoos or the name on his shirt during the five hours he studied the images.
"They gave me a list of things they wanted to look at," he said. "It would be easy to guess what they're interested in."